Carbon burning powers scenarios that influence the fate of stars, such as the late evolutionary stages of massive stars1 (exceeding eight solar masses) and superbursts from accreting neutron stars2,3. It proceeds through the 12C + 12C fusion reactions that produce an alpha particle and neon-20 or a proton and sodium-23 - that is, 12C(12C, α)20Ne and 12C(12C, p)23Na - at temperatures greater than 0.4 × 109 kelvin, corresponding to astrophysical energies exceeding a megaelectronvolt, at which such nuclear reactions are more likely to occur in stars. The cross-sections 4 for those carbon fusion reactions (probabilities that are required to calculate the rate of the reactions) have hitherto not been measured at the Gamow peaks4 below 2 megaelectronvolts because of exponential suppression arising from the Coulomb barrier. The reference rate 5 at temperatures below 1.2 × 109 kelvin relies on extrapolations that ignore the effects of possible low-lying resonances. Here we report the measurement of the 12C(12C, α 0,1)20Ne and 12C(12C, p0,1)23Na reaction rates (where the subscripts 0 and 1 stand for the ground and first excited states of 20Ne and 23Na, respectively) at centre-of-mass energies from 2.7 to 0.8 megaelectronvolts using the Trojan Horse method 6,7 and the deuteron in 14N. The cross-sections deduced exhibit several resonances that are responsible for very large increases of the reaction rate at relevant temperatures. In particular, around 5 × 108 kelvin, the reaction rate is boosted to more than 25 times larger than the reference value5. This finding may have implications such as lowering the temperatures and densities 8 required for the ignition of carbon burning in massive stars and decreasing the superburst ignition depth in accreting neutron stars to reconcile observations with theoretical models3.
|Titolo:||An increase in the 12C + 12C fusion rate from resonances at astrophysical energies|
|Data di pubblicazione:||2018|
|Appare nelle tipologie:||1.1 Articolo in rivista|